Saturday, April 28, 2012

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

I know that I love a good road trip now and then, but one thing I haven't done is take a trip on Route 66. To me, it has always symbolized a new found freedom Americans felt and an overall feeling of happiness once the Great Depression and World War II subsided. More Americans were able to afford cars and to travel. One of our guided reading groups recently read a book titled, "Route 66" and wanted more information. I found this great website that ties in facts and pictures of the road's attractions with fitness.  It's called and my students just loved it!

I especially recommend the slideshow that plays the song "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" along with pictures from the famous road.

Younger kids may recognize Route 66 from the Disney Movie Cars. You can get more information to read, download and print coloring pages, and watch videos at this Interstate Highway Project Resources Page.

Emily Priddy has created a great free guidebook to Route 66 for kids that you can download for free! Just click on the image below.

You can also download a free Route 66 worksheet by clicking on the image.

Just is a highway!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Meeting Patricia Polacco!!!

Today, Patricia Polacco visited our school! She has been going to schools in New Jersey for several days and got laryngitis three days ago, but she was still a great sport.

She told us how she comes up with her illustrations...

and even brought her Keeping Quilt! This one is actually a replica created to replace her 130 year old family heirloom, which is not displayed at a museum in Finlay, Ohio.

She told us about her uses of the quilt as a child, including one not mentioned in the book....she used it as a Superman cape!

She said that when she misses a family member, all she has to do is touch parts of the quilt (such as the edge, which was made from her Babushka's scarf) or read a book she has written about them...and they come alive again!

To see what we did to prepare for her visit and read other Polacco posts, click here. If you've never read her books or met her, you can watch this video, where she explains how she became an author and illustrator.

Click here for more Patricia Polacco videos on her website.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Today, we read Meteor. Tomorrow, we meet Patricia Polacco! This was the first book she ever wrote, and it's based on a true story about a meteor that fell from the sky into her grandparents' backyard. Since we just finished up our astronomy unit, my students thought that it was the coolest thing ever. 

Did you know that Patricia and her hometown hold a Meteor Festival every year in July in Michigan?! You get to visit Meteor Ridge Farm, 

see where the meteor landed in her grandparents' backyard when she was a child, 

eat "Thunder Cupcakes" (Have you read Thundercake?! That was my first Polacco book), visit Patricia's Art Studio, 

the Graves House,

and the GAW Center for Arts. You also can listen to Patricia talk about her life and books. Admission is only $10 for adults and free for kids under 12. You can see pictures from the Meteor Festival here.

I promised my students that I'd post pictures of meteors I saw over spring break at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. They're pretty large and come in many colors and shapes!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Keeping Quilt

We just finished reading The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco. It's a touching story of her family's journey to America and their celebrations that have occurred with the quilt, from weddings to births to deaths. 

Since she's visiting our school on Friday, (I can't believe it's so soon either!) we made a class quilt out of pictures students had drawn since we started reading her books. Here are a few of the "squares" we made.

and her is most of our quilt:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Butterfly

In preparation for our butterfly study, we read Patricia Polacco's The Butterfly. It's an account of the Holcaust from the point of view of a child - Patricia's great-aunt Monique - in France as she helps Jews escape and hide. Monique becomes friends with a girl named Severine, who is hiding in her cellar with her family. The butterfly in the story symbolizes freedom, as the girls pray that Severine and her parents may one day return to their normal lives. Eventually, Severine must leave Monique's home as their cover has been blown. She loses her parents to a Nazi concentration camp, but survives and reunites with her long lost friend.

Here is a clip from a play that was adapted from the book:

We watched this YouTube Monarch Butterfly video

as well as this time lapse video of a butterfly emerging from its crysalis.

We created these cute butterfly life cycle plates that I started making with my class years ago. (This pic is from Somewhat Simple though. Click the pic to see how to make them!

We also created symmetric butterflies.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman

This week's reading story is called The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman. It's an adorable book about an uncle and his niece who write letters to each other. Uncle Ray lives in South Carolina and works in his wood shop. He can't take time off work to visit his niece Tameka in California, so he creates Oliver K. Woodman, a wooden statue he hopes people will take along on their trips across the US. He puts a letter in Oliver's backpack and makes him a wooden sign that says, "California or Bust!" The book's pages are a mixture of letters between Uncle Ray and Tameka as well as letters from travelers explaining their stories and Oliver's journey to Uncle Ray. As we read the book, we tracked Oliver across the country.
It also has a sequel called Searching for Oliver K. Woodman. Our friend Oliver has gone missing, so Uncle Ray sends his friend Imogene Poplar, a private detective, out to find him. It's a fun story with great little geographical tidbits. I can't wait to read it to the kids!

This book reminded me of Flat Stanley. It's a perfect time to start our Flat Stanley project! If you and your family or class is interested in receiving Flat Stanley from us, leave a message below and / or send me an email at!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cherry Blossoms Say Spring

I'm off to Washington, DC to visit my college roommates, do some exploring, and see the Cherry Blossom Parade and Festival (Saturday, April 14 from 10:00am-12:30pm). The trees were donated to the US by Japan as a symbol of friendship, but their blooming signifies spring. I found these great books to read to my students to tell them about what I did before they do their "What I Did on Spring Break" writing when we get back.

Here's a little info on the 2012 parade:

Honorary Marshals include singer and actress Marie Osmond; Olympians Benita Fitzgerald Mosley and Kristi Yamaguchi; astronaut Buzz AldrinShintaro Ishihara, Governor of Tokyo; and Ichiro Fujisaki,Ambassador of Japan to the United States. The parade is co-hosted by ABC’s Katie Couric with special correspondent Alex Trebek of Jeopardy and ABC7’s Alison Starling and Leon Harris. Standing room along the Parade route is free and open to the public. 

If you can't attend, but would like to contribute to the beautification of Washington D.C. or buy a cherry blossom tree for your own home, check out the Arbor Day Foundation website.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Our Class is Going Green!

I just loved this book to kick off our Earth Day campaign here at school.

Besides growing a cherry blossom tree, we created upcycled materials to celebrate reading A Mr. Rubbish Mood. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Bee Tree

A few days ago we read The Bee Tree in preparation for our Patricia Polacco author visit. We created bees and a tree (out of reclaimed brown paper bags) to decorate our display case. It will be the first thing she sees when she enters our school!

My favorite quote from the book is, "There is such sweetness inside of that book too! Such things...adventure, knowledge, and wisdom. But these things do not come easily. You have to pursue them. Just like we ran after the bees to find their tree, so you must also chase these things through the pages of a book!"
Can you see the "flying" bees? I used clear lanyard to hang them since I couldn't find my fishing wire! I was inspired to make a bee hive by wrapping yarn around an old, plastic mayo jar from the cafeteria. 

We also made paper Pysanky eggs to celebrate Rechenka's Eggs and Chicken Sunday. Students also created bunting flags that illustrated their favorite Polacco book. We're working on a "Keeping Quilt" next!

We also did some fun activities that can be found below, including this simile sheet...

We also used these writing paper sheets.

Check out these other bee-related resources!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Rechenka's Eggs

In the spirit of spring, we read Rechenka's Eggs by Patricia Polacco. Most of my students do not celebrate Easter, so we looked at it from an art / author's purpose view.

Babushka is an artist who enjoys painting eggs. One day she comes across a goose that has been shot by a hunter. As she nurses it to health, it begins to lay eggs. The goose, Rechenka, accidentally knocks over a basket of Babushka's carefully painted eggs...right before the Easter Festival in Moskva. Each night until the festival, the goose begins to lay decorative eggs. Babushka says goodbye and thank you to Rechenka as she leaves for the festival, knowing that she is healthy and will rejoin to her flock. After Babushka returns home, she finds a decorative egg in her basket. It begins to shake and make noise. A baby goose hatches and keeps Babushka company for the rest of her life.
My students think that Patricia's purpose was to explain why we celebrate Easter with decorative eggs in baskets! I guess we will have to ask her in a few weeks!

Here are the eggs we made. First we drew a design on dry erase boards. Next, we drew the designs on the eggs using pencils. Then we used Sharpie markers to color in the designs. They're obviously more colorful than Pysanky eggs, but it was certainly easier than painting or dying them!

Scholastic Lesson Plan

Ms. Jacoby's site with tons of activities


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